Another week goes by, no clever anecdotes, just a look into the music of a few individuals churning out new sounds today.
There are moments where there’s no rhyme or reason as to why things happen. People can walk through life barely noticeable, and it may take something amazing for people to stand up and take note of who they are. Most go through life thumbing through smartphones, only occasionally looking forward to take hold of what’s in front of them but for the most part, simply become another lemming.
Enter the Summer Cannibals. Made of guitarist/vocalist Jessica Bourdreaux, Cassi Blum, Devin Shirley, and Ethan Butman, Can’t Tell Me No (Tiny Engines) is the band’s fourth full-length release and most would be dumbfounded as to why it’s taken so long for the world to catch up with the band. The band plays fervent punk-powered pop songs, although I’m taking a few liberties here with “pop,” but they know how to contort a song to their favor. The Portland, Oregon quartet opens the album with “False Anthem,” taking a political stance against sheep following false narratives as dueling guitars pack a powerful punch without completely bashing listeners with over-the-top distortion, complimenting it with a simple rhythm that’s highly addictive. The band seamlessly blends into the high-octane fueled “Can’t Tell Me No,” which reels around relationships, either symbiotic or parasitic, but regardless, Bourdreaux standing on her own two feet here.
The band doesn’t always move quickly through tracks, as “Behave” trudges along as harmonies bounce around the background, as those same relationships are dealt with here. What listeners will be able to dig within the sonic compass the Summer Cannibals follow are the slinky basslines that drop in and out. “Innocent Man,” for instance, sets the mood and pace along with the consistency of percussion while guitars sometimes fill empty spaces. But here, those empty spaces are welcomed moments. They seem to enhance the song itself.
With Can’t Tell Me No, the band’s singular delivery and sound is something anyone should be able to find appealing, with guitars that are always on point, especially on “Staring At The Sun,” which you’ll hit replay again and again. But as a whole, Summer Cannibals’ latest should stand the test of time.
There are moments when I have to suck it up and eat my own words when I’m incorrect with my initial assessment. With Espanola, the brainchild of Aaron Goldstein, I fell in somewhere within that spectrum. A few weeks ago, or maybe a month I don’t really remember, I was hit with a new single, “A Lesson.” I was fascinated! It was punchy, it was melodic, it was different from what I was listening to at that very moment. Fast forward to now and the self-titled debut full-length (Surely Young Records) is different from what I thought it would be.
Confused? Probably, considering I haven’t made mention of my actual thoughts on the album itself. Well, it’s still different from anything else I’m listening to and I get the feeling that Aaron and his Espanola couldn’t give a rat’s ass what I feel about the album. Why (Yeah, I’m loaded with questions)? Because on this release, Espanola goes through a whole array of influences and shares songs that are reflective of no one else, except Espanola. The songs here are heartfelt, pure, and just cool AF. There isn’t any formula Espanola sticks to, it’s all about letting the music take hold and directing Goldstein himself. The opening “Tricks Of The Heart” has Goldstein grabbing guitars and allowing him the opportunity to bare his soul here. His guitar playing is slick and he’s backed by great musicians here. Now I feel like “A Lesson” is still the odd man out, with the rest of Espanola coming off of classic rock and Americana influences. “That Old Feeling,” obviously holding tightly to that classic rock feel but with a melody that’s completely delectable! You can’t help but fall in love with the nuances here and there where one can actually hear an “ok” in the background, leading the change. It’s the small things there. But “Living Room Blues,” this takes all sorts of turns and the beauty is in the subtleties and coalescing of instruments that make this a wondrous track. Violins, organs, and keys accentuate it.
One thing we can all be sure about is Espanola isn’t a one-trick-pony, tying together a few different styles for something…amazing. Other highlights can be found in “This High,” the guitar-centricity of “Shoveling,” and the cool rending of “Everyone You Know.” Espanola is surprising me at every turn here. There must be something in the Canadian waters there because this album here, is amazing.
I’m coming in fresh and new with Justjoey, an emcee out of San Jose, CA. In other words, I had no idea who this is. With very little information to go on, we dive deep into the 6-track release of World Is Home EP (Inkiscape / Romeda Records). Musically, Justjoey is friendly, piecing together acoustic and electronic instrumentation with his quick-tongued delivery that hits the right spots at every turn.
Justjoey is experimental indie rap, and what he’s creating here falls directly in line with his contemporaries and it’s not forceful but allowed to develop naturally. What I find most appealing here though is how at ease Justjoey is. “Underground” is a serious composition here but Justjoey’s flow allows it to transcend other planes here. He doesn’t take himself so seriously that he’s not able to just have fun with it. With “Scheme Like Leaves” it’s the same, led by a keyboard and his singing accentuates the track.
The juxtaposition of instrumentation and vocal interplay makes World Is Home an interesting release and leaves me wondering where his next steps may lead. Justjoey is easily likable, that dude you could probably share drinks with, talk music and sports with, all the while thinking hey, I may have just found my new best friend.
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